Winchester native cites drug court as key to her recovery
Kelly Lane Hopkins wants to further her education.
She wants to build a career. She wants a family, a house — all the things she never thought she could have.
But for the first time in her life, the Winchester native said those things are finally in her reach, thanks to drug court.
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel so to say,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins, 31, graduated from the Clark-Madison County Drug Court program May 29 at the Clark County Circuit Courthouse. It was the drug court’s 25th judicial graduation. She was in the program for about 18 months, and she’s been sober since Jan. 28, 2017, nearly two and a half years.
A lot of bad decisions and an addiction that took its hold led Hopkins to drug court. Growing up, she had a healthy, happy childhood alongside her two sisters. Hopkins was the middle child. Her parents were together, and they were happy, Hopkins said.
When Hopkins was 15, her oldest sister got pregnant at a young age. Hopkins’ sister got married and moved out. A few months after her older sister gave birth to her first daughter, her and Hopkins’ world stopped.
“My mother passed away in a car wreck, which was very hard for me,” Hopkins said.
About a year after her mother’s death, Hopkins went to Florida with her father, younger sister and a friend. It was there she had her first drink. Hopkins didn’t get sick. She liked it. From then on, any extra money went to drinking on the weekends at parties.
Eventually, Hopkins said, she found drugs at those parties too. In no time, she was a full blown addict.
“It made me feel better,” she said.
Her drug habit continued as she entered her 20s. She started work as a stripper at 20 years old; it was the only job she could keep at the time.
“It just progressed very rapidly,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t care about school or anything else. I did one semester of college and dropped out. Then I was living the lifestyle. I was making money … and then I was selling drugs for a while.”
In 2011, Hopkins was pregnant, which was a light in all of the darkness. She gave birth on Oct. 3, 2011, to her daughter Chloe Lane.
“I thought she would change my life, and I would get back on track,” Hopkins wrote in an online testimony.
But not even her daughter was enough to keep her sober. On Jan. 9, 2012, Hopkins awoke to find her 3-month-old daughter had passed away during the night due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS.
It was the worst day of her life.
“That took my drug use into a whole different level,” Hopkins said. “It was just kind of like, by any means necessary … I didn’t care. I was mad at God … And that’s whenever the drug dealing got bad. I got into heroin then.”
About three years later, in 2015, Hopkins was charged with four felonies. She had three trafficking and possession charges and then received another contraband charge.
Hopkins was in jail for a month but got out on bond until the trial. The first thing she did was get high, she said.
The court hearings lasted over a year. Hopkins was breaking into homes, stealing things; she had become homeless.
But “by God’s grace,” Hopkins said, police picked her up on a charge for receiving stolen property.
So, she returned to jail. And would sit in jail for six months until her felony cases were over. It was then she reconnected with God, read her Bible and attended church.
And it was there, she heard about drug court.
“I told my lawyer I was interested in drug court because I was just tired of that life,” Hopkins said. “I knew I was going to be in jail for a long time. And, at the time, it was just a cry for help to get me out of jail, anything to quit living how I was living.”
Hopkins pleaded guilty to her felony charges, and drug court sent her straight to Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women, a long-term substance abuse recovery program for women that provides support and hope for women recovering.
“I was there for about five months,” Hopkins said. “Then I came home, and that’s whenever my drug court started.”
Hopkins excelled in drug court. Her connections at Liberty Place fostered a strong foundation for Hopkins’ recovery. She built an active fellowship with others in drug court and discovered the Achieving Recovery Together (ART) Center.
Hopkins said she now feels secure in telling her truth, knowing support surrounds her.
“I’m brutally honest now,” Hopkins said. “I go to my doctor and tell him exactly what’s going on, and I’ll let him about my former drug use because you can’t receive the help you need if you don’t tell the truth. And job applications now, I used to lie and say that I hadn’t done anything … but (I’m) being honest with myself, really, with my therapist about what’s going on, and I found out that I’m being treated for depression and anxiety.
“And I think now that not my drug use was a way to self medicate for past traumas that I’ve been through. I suffer from PTSD. And that’s probably where the depression and anxiety come from … but being honest with myself and being able to go to people and ask for help and not be afraid to share my past.”
Hopkins said she thinks it was the accountability aspect and the support drug court provided that helped her navigate the path of recovery with success.
“As an addict, you just do whatever you want,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t care if it was breaking the law. I just did what I wanted, no matter who thought anything about it. Being in drug court, you have all these appointments you got to make. They set all this stuff up for you. So you don’t have any free time.”
During the program, participants attend court, see a therapist, go to meetings and groups, connect with caseworkers and more.
“Everyone says that drug court is set up for failure, but it’s not if you want a new way of life,” Hopkins said.
Without the drug court program, which has been around since the late 1990s, Hopkins said she thinks she’d still be in jail. Or dead.
“I would still be out in the madness doing the only thing I knew what to do because I’ve been living that life since I was 15,” she said. “It was the only way I knew how to live.”
Now, for the first time, Hopkins said she has friends.
“Like real friends, not just the ones that are worried about what I can give them and or what they can give me,” she said.
For the first time, Hopkins said she doesn’t wake up every morning in a panic worrying about what she is going to have to do to get something.
“Even my bad days now are still 100 times better than my best day out there,” she said. “I don’t have to look over my shoulder worried about if the cops are around.”
A few weeks ago, Hopkins got pulled over for not wearing her seat belt.
It was the first time an officer pulled over Hopkins while she was sober. Hopkins didn’t have to worry. She knew her car was legal; she had insurance. There was nothing or no one in her car that would cause trouble.
“I was happy to get pulled over,” Hopkins said. “I got a seat belt ticket, but I took a selfie with the cop and everything.”
Hopkins said she hopes others can see the value of the drug court program.
“Jail doesn’t fix you at all,” she said. “I was in there for five months before I started my recovery journey. And you sit in a cell … you’re sober, but your mind is still at the day that you went to jail. There’s no growth; there’s no change.
“Drug court offers you a way to learn how to live,” she said.
And Hopkins is living, working toward that light she can finally see.
She has a full-time job, working as a cook at DV8 Kitchen, a daytime eatery giving second chance employment to those in substance abuse recovery. She’s also looking for peer support specialist jobs. She received her certification as a peer support specialist and family support specialist while enrolled in the drug court program.
Hopkins is a daughter, a sister, a friend and an aunt. She loves to spend time outdoors, hiking or camping.
She volunteers for the ART Center and attends meetings for those in recovery at least three times a week. She completed the steps through Celebrate Recovery and is now a sponsor to others in recovery.
“I feel good to give back, and try to help others and let them know that there is life after addiction,” Hopkins said. “You can bounce back because I know whenever you’re in that cycle you don’t see any other future. I thought these were the cards I was dealt; this is the life I’m going to live, there’s no hope for me, I’m too far gone.
“But drug court opened my eyes.”